Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Obscurity of the Day: Carrier-Toons

Ah, the good old days. When newspapers were delivered by kids on bikes, not scruffy looking middle age guys in beat up Ford Granadas.

I was a newspaper carrier when I was a kid. Carried the Rive Sud La Presse, a freebie French language paper. That put me at the lowest rung on the carrier ladder of success. The luckier kids had Montreal Star routes. They got to tote cool yellow canvas bags emblazoned with the paper's logo and they made collections that sometimes included tips! On the other hand the Sunday Star was such a monster those kids walked around like little Quasimodos at school on Monday.

My route was only once a week, Thursday afternoons. But it was 250 papers and it took hours and hours of lugging papers to complete my route. I finally subcontracted half the route to another neighborhood kid. After a few weeks of that the circulation manager started getting a lot of complaints from people on my route and I got fired. Turned out the kid I subcontracted to was picking up his half of the papers and then just dumping them all in a field. I don't think the little fink delivered one single paper.

That's as close as I ever got to being in the newspaper biz.

But I digress ... Carrier-Toons was syndicated from the last Sunday of 1978 until May 27 1984, and it was really just a comic strip advertisement promising kids lifestyles of the rich and famous if they became newspaper carriers. The strip was a fixture on the back page of many Sunday funnies sections.

Carrier-Toons was by Chick Evans, an editorial cartoonist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The Times-Dispatch syndicated the strip themselves for about 8 months, after which distribution was taken over by United Feature Syndicate.

The samples above are kind of amusing. I forget now which paper I scanned them from, but of course I'd be able to tell if the paper had bothered to put their address on the little cut-out coupons kids were supposed to mail in. Swift work there guys! I can just see the circulation people at that paper sitting around wondering why no kids are applying for carrier duty. "Geez, these kids today are lazy. We go to the expense of printing a fancy comic strip ad every week and we get no response -- none at all!"

Carrier-toons was usually at the bottom of a sunday comic section's cover page, where earlier in the seventies the ubiquitous Wrigley's gum ads called Fun Facts had been.
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